May 27th, 2016
At Wednesday’s Stated Meeting of the New York City Council, I voted against a package of bills aimed at reforming the NYPD’s Broken Windows Policing Program. These bills set lower penalties for certain offense such as having an open container of alcohol in public, littering, public urination and violating certain parks rules. It will also reclassify these offenses from criminal to civil penalties. These bills basically issue a “get out of jail free” card for those who want to violate quality of life laws. Below is my speech on the Council floor, urging my colleagues to vote no.
“Today I am voting against the Criminal Justice Reform Act in order to defend common sense and the preservation of our quality of life here in New York City. While the arguments of reducing the Judicial backlog and preserving the future of someone who “made a mistake” may be meritorious, today’s actions would, in fact, not accomplish either goal. To fix the court system, you budget for more judges, officers, court clerks and staff. You don’t eliminate the crime. To remove the protections safeguarding our quality of life invites even more disregard of the very practices we were taught by our parents to not do.
Policy over legislation is always preferable. It has been proven time and time again that successfully prosecuting low-level offenses often leads to the conviction of career criminals with outstanding warrants. Today’s legislation permanently removes another tool that the New York Police Department has to defend and protect our city.
Once again, we will be shifting the burden to our police officers to determine who gets a criminal summons and who gets a civil fine. The chilling effect of these bills is simply unacceptable. Therefore, I will urge my colleagues to vote no. Otherwise, today will be remembered as the day that the quality of life in the City of New York was forever changed, and not for the better.”